Do you have a drawer in the kitchen with miscellaneous odds and ends? Things like matchbooks, extra shoelaces, nails and screws? Maybe even some expired coupons? Many people call this a “junk drawer” and the name says it all. It’s full of stuff that you definitely don’t need today, but perhaps some day in the future you will.
At least, that’s the prevailing idea.
Another possibility (more likely if you’re a chick) is that you have a stash of samples, like of cosmetics and face creams. Maybe you’ve got a bunch of travel size packs of toothpaste, collected for the next time you travel. Or every time you go to the gym, you pick up another one of those small bags of Q-tips, and you’ve managed to accumulate quite a lot of them. You know that one day, those will come in handy. It certainly sucks to be in need of a Q-tip and not have one at hand. You’re covered for when that time comes.
The problem with all of this – besides the fact that some of these behaviors might borderline on the extreme of hoarding – is that it is all symptomatic of a not-enough mentality. Meaning, you’re living in a mindset of scarcity. You don’t believe you will be provided for.
I’m not talking about being irresponsible, and not taking steps to have the things that you need on hand. If you regularly run out of toilet paper in the house, well, that’s a different problem.
But someone who is constantly stashing things away “just in case” is showing indications of some potential issues that may be obstacles on the spiritual path:
- acquiring more than she needs; the consumerist mentality – this is symptomatic of being very hooked into the world (Maya)
- attachments – the Buddha said that dropping attachments is the way to liberation (simplified)
- not living in the moment, projecting too much into the future, and not trusting the Universe to take care of your needs when they arise
These tendencies all seem innocuous enough, but they are antithetical to the free mind. If you examine the logical extreme of these habits, you end up with the person featured on one of those awful Hoarders TV shows. Yes, these behaviors are the origins of an end-state like that. The ones I’m describing today are socially acceptable, and they may offer some odd sense of comfort. If you know you’ve got these things tucked away in closets and drawers, well, you can feel more secure that you’ll be prepared when you need it. For most people who do this though, that’s a complete illusion. The time when you think you’ll “need it” never comes, and the stuff just piles on.
Here’s a novel idea: Whenever you buy something, before you put it in your basket at Target, stop and ask yourself if it’s really truly needed. It’s so easy to come home with crap in the shopping bag that we didn’t intend to buy. Before picking up yet another lip gloss or nail polish, check yourself. Are these things that you will actually be using in the near term? Just because some product offers a “Gift with Purchase” doesn’t mean that you need it. A bargain is not a bargain if it weighs you down and creates baggage. Go through the store with the mentality that you’re going to be moving next week; only buy the stuff that you need NOW, and skip the things that you’d just be packing up into boxes, unopened and unused.
At least, that can be a first step to living light. Check back to this blog in the next few days for some more radical ideas on this topic.